- Apex court tells central bank to arrange money from Federal Consolidated Fund
The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Friday directed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to release Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to enable it to hold elections in Punjab, reported Aaj News.
In a hearing of the case pertaining to Punjab Assembly elections, it asked the SBP to arrange the money from the Federal Consolidated Fund.
Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Deputy Governor Sima Kamil, finance secretaries and officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were summoned on Friday over the government’s failure to disburse funds for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The development comes after the SC ruled on April 4 that Punjab elections should be held on May 14 and directed the federal government to release Rs21 billion to the ECP by April 10 for the polls.
A detailed verdict of today’s hearing is expected soon. What is known is that the SC has expressed concerns over the non-implementation of its order.
Earlier during the day, the federal government submitted a response to the apex court which stated that “act of parliament is needed to disburse funds from the Federal Consolidated Fund and that bill was rejected hence there is no way the federal government can release funds”.
April 4 ruling
On April 4, the SC stated that the ECP’s decision to postpone polls in Punjab till October 8 was unconstitutional.
It ordered that elections in Punjab be held on May 14 and directed the caretaker government in Punjab to assist the ECP with elections next month. It said the federal government has been asked to assist the commission, ordering authorities to release Rs21 billion to the ECP by April 10.
Subsequently, the government floated the “Charged Sum for General Election of Punjab and KP Assemblies Bill, 2023” but the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance unanimously rejected it.
The bill was moved to provide funds to ECP for the general election in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the State Minister for Finance stating that the country being in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme has to remain within the agreed budget deficit.
Last week, the ECP, in a one-page report, informed the court about the government’s reluctance to issue the amount needed for elections.